You may have heard of the new mobile video game sensation, Pokémon Go. The game is described by its publisher as a location-based augmented reality game in which players utilize the GPS functionality of their cell phones to find, collect and fight virtual Pokémon creatures who appear on their phone screen to co-exist with players in the real world.
The game has become a global sensation, racking up over 75 million downloads since its release on July 6, 2016.
It has also become a cause of consternation amongst drivers and pedestrians alike. Players of the game can be seen walking and driving around in a distracted state, looking at their phones for Pokémon while paying little attention to their actual surroundings. Accident reports have been coming in from around the nation, including Texas:
- At Texas A&M, a driver's vehicle was rear-ended after he left his car parked in the road illegally to get out and catch a Pokémon
- Outside Syracuse, New York, a 28 year-old driver became distracted while playing the game, ran his car off the road and crashed headlong into a tree
- In Pennsylvania, a 15-year-old girl was struck and injured by a vehicle while attempting to cross a busy four-lane road to catch a Pokémon
Texas weighs in on the dangers of Pokémon Go
Several states have issued advisories on the potential dangers of playing Pokémon Go while driving and walking.
And now the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has got in on the game, with its social media manager suggesting that a "Don't Pokémon GO and Drive" campaign may be in order.
The TxDOT manager shared a Facebook post on July 11th depicting a screenshot of the game that urged drivers to stay aware of their surroundings. Although the post was initially meant as a joke, she later indicated maybe the TxDOT would have a campaign about it after all.
Even if the post was shared in jest, it does make several good points:
- Only look for Pokémon when you are not behind the wheel
- Don't stop traffic just for PokéStops
- Don't cross the street for Pokémon without paying attention
To date, there have been no serious motor vehicle incidents involving Pokémon Go. Despite the warnings from several states and the TxDOT, however, it won't be too surprising if a fatality occurs due to an inattentive driver and a distracted Pokémon Go player. As always, if you or someone you know is involved in a motor vehicle accident (involving Pokémon Go or not), make sure to contact a qualified motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible.